Lex orandi, lex credendi. That’s an old Latin phrase that translates as “the law of prayer is the law of faith.” It’s rooted in the very beginnings of the Church herself. Cardinal Justin Rigali offered a contemporary take on the saying recently in the National Catholic Register newspaper, saying, “The way we pray reveals what we believe.”

Everything we believe as Catholic Christians is revealed in the holy Mass. The English words of this most perfect prayer are about to change, but not our beliefs in God the Father to whom we offer our praise and worship, or in His son Jesus Christ.{{more}}

The Holy See has approved a new translation of the Roman Missal in order to perfect that praise due to God. By Advent of 2011 and after more than a year of preparation and study, some of those new words and phrases will no doubt rise from Catholic congregations with a bit of uneasiness. Some people might fall back by habit upon the current formulas they probably have learned since birth. This is natural.

That’s why it is important that priests, deacons, religious and all the faithful get acquainted with the changes in translation. They will be explained extensively in the 15 months from now until November 2011. Look for ongoing catechesis in this newspaper and at your parish.

After getting familiarized with the prayers, any verbal missteps will likely begin to fade over time. But the words of the Mass will do what they always do. They reveal our faith, through word and sacrament, in our Eucharistic Lord, Jesus Christ.

That faith is not isolated in the Church assembly when we leave it. Faith compels action on behalf of our brothers and sisters. This newspaper shows the impact upon the world by men and women who have consecrated themselves in lives of prayer and service in the Church. The 290 religious men and women featured are celebrating milestones of 25, 50 and more years of consecrated life this year. Everyone has been touched by their prayers for the world. Countless people have benefitted from their generous service.

These religious remind us today that all can serve. And disasters such as the floods of Pakistan remind us that there is much to do. Make a sacrificial donation to Catholic Relief Services’ efforts at www.crs.org and offer special prayers at this time. Those prayers and the actions in which they are rooted reveal what we believe and how we should live: in service of God and His people.